Four-time Oldsmar champion jockey caps huge day with heady ride on first-time starter; trainer Michael Trombetta pleased with Independence Hall's half-mile; Cap Giveaway Day is Saturday.
With a chance to ride five winners on a single card at Tampa Bay Downs for the fifth time in his career, leading jockey Antonio Gallardo went into the eighth race brimming with confidence.
Everyone could see why after first-time starter Chart ran away and hid from her six rivals, posting a 5 ¼-length victory in a snappy time of 1:10.19 for the 6-furlong distance. The eighth was the Cody’s Original Roadhouse Race of the Week.
Gallardo, a four-time Oldsmar jockey champion, is the only jockey to ride five winners at Tampa Bay Downs more than once. He has 40 winners at the current meeting through 30 racing days.
Gary Contessa trains Chart, a 3-year-old filly who is owned by the father-son team of Leonard C. Green and Jonathan I. Green.
“I really liked this filly today. I’ve been breezing her the last three or four times, and each time she kept improving,” Gallardo said. “I tried to breeze her off the pace last time with another horse in front and she did it really easy, and today after she got the lead and started to get a little bit lost, I let (eventual runner-up) Shari’s Tune go to the front and my filly felt really comfortable.”
So comfortable, in fact, she blew past Shari’s Tune at the top of the stretch en route to an eye-catching triumph.
The 32-year-old Gallardo, who was 5-for-7 with a second and a third, got going early with his first mount in the second race, Das Da One, a 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Nick Caruso.
In the third race on the turf, Gallardo triumphed aboard 3-year-old Ireland-bred colt Bitcoin Passion, a first-time starter bred and owned by Khalid A. Rahim and trained by Christophe Clement. Bitcoin Passion is by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and out of the Bernardini mare Listen Dear.
Next, Gallardo won the fourth race on 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding Legacy Azteca, owned by Mercy Man Racing and trained by Gerald Bennett. Legacy Azteca was claimed from the race for $8,000 by her former owner-trainer, Darien Rodriguez, for his Acclaimed Racing Stable.
Gallardo’s fourth victory came in the seventh race on the turf on Earthquake, a 3-year-old Florida-bred owned by Arindel and trained by Juan Alvarado.
Richard DePass set the Tampa Bay Downs record in 1980 with seven winners and was the first jockey in history to go 7-for-7 on a single card. Edwin Gonzalez rode six winners here in 2017, and a number of jockeys have ridden five winners here, including current Oldsmar riders Daniel Centeno, Samy Camacho and Pablo Morales.
But no one besides Gallardo has done it more than once, according to available records.
“Any time you ride seven races and win five, that feels really good,” he said. “I liked all my horses today. I hope there are more days coming like this, and I thank God for protecting everybody out on the track.”
Not so fast. That was trainer Michael Trombetta’s message this morning to his assistant and exercise rider, Sarah Shaffer – as well as area racing fans who hope to see unbeaten 3-year-old colt Independence Hall in action at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 8 in the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes.
Trombetta was in touch with Shaffer via radio during the strapping youngster’s 4-furlong workout this morning, urging her to “sit tight” after a second eighth of a mile in 11 3/5 seconds. Working in company with stablemate Torch of Truth, a 5-year-old gelding, Independence Hall geared down a notch on Shaffer’s command, then finished in fine fashion in 49 3/5 seconds before galloping out.
Trombetta was pleased with his colt’s second workout at the Oldsmar oval since arriving here following his New Year’s Day victory in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.
“That was enough for today. He just ran 19 days ago,” Trombetta said. “It’s where I want him to be. That’s why I do these radio things with the riders, because if she (Shaffer) had persevered like she started off, he’d have worked in 47 and change, and I don’t want that yet. He doesn’t need it. So he did just enough, and next week we’ll ask him for a bit more.”
Racing insiders have been talking about Independence Hall since he won the Grade III Nashua Stakes on Nov. 3 at Aqueduct by 12 ¼ lengths in an impressive time of 1:34.66. Jose Ortiz was the jockey.
Independence Hall is a son of multiple-Grade I winner and hot young sire Constitution and out of the Cape Town mare Kalahari Cat. He is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Kathleen Verratti and Robert Verratti.
Trombetta said a decision has yet to be made on Independence Hall’s next start, with the Sam F. Davis and the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln on Feb. 15 at Fair Grounds among the possibilities.
“There are a lot of factors to weigh,” Trombetta said. “The goal for all of us is to have a horse that’s ready but still fresh enough to run well when the stakes get higher. When you’re running that last race before the (Kentucky) Derby and the Derby, they’re the ones you have to show up for.”
Cap Giveaway Day is Saturday. One of the most popular promotions on the Tampa Bay Downs calendar, Cap Giveaway Day, will be held Saturday. All fans will receive a free cap with the distinctive track logo with paid admission, while supplies last.
Jockeys will be available to sign caps on the first floor of the Grandstand throughout the day, as their schedules allow.
Around the oval. Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs continues Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m. The track will stage an additional day of racing Thursday, to make up for a Dec. 22 cancellation.
The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits action and tournament play in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.